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Russian human rights report highlights police violence against opposition

Moscow, 28 March: Human rights campaigners have expressed their concern over the increasing number of incidents in which the law-enforcement agencies use violence.

The Committee Against Torture public organization from Nizhniy Novgorod in Moscow today made a presentation of a survey conducted together with the Sociology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. It says that both incarcerated citizens and ordinary citizens have come across use of violence by the law-enforcement agencies in Russia.

"Every Russian known either from his own experience or from those around him that torture is applied in the law-enforcement system," head of the Nizhniy Novgorod Committee Against Torture Igor Kalyapin said at the presentation. The survey involved more than 5,500 people in St Petersburg, Nizhniy Novgorod, Pskov, Chita and the Republic of Komi, he said.

Expert of the Sociology Institute Professor Yakov Gilinskiy told journalists that "an average of 4.12 per cent of respondents said they personally were subjected to torture over the past year".

Asked if they could recall incidents in which the law-enforcement agencies used violence against them, 21.3 per cent of respondents in St Petersburg gave the affirmative answer, he said. According to the survey, more than 50 per cent of respondents in St Petersburg, Pskov, Nizhniy Novgorod, the Republic of Komi and Chita think that torture is used in Russia.

Gilinskiy said that 39 per cent of prison inmates in Komi said they had been subjected to violence before their court verdict. The figure for Chita exceeded 61 per cent. More than 60 per cent of respondents in St Petersburg said they did not feel protected against violence, Gilinskiy said.

"Russia is already in third position after Columbia and South Africa in terms of suicide numbers per every 1,000 of the population. We have accumulated an enormous violence potential and the problem is underestimated by society and the country's leadership," he said.

The majority of respondents complained of violence by police patrols and interior affairs investigators, he said. Complaints of violence committed by staff of prosecutor's offices and the Federal Security Service were made less frequently, he said. [passage omitted].